Weapons and drugs accused ‘gang member’

A man who police believe is a ‘key member of an organised gang operating in Derry’ has been refused bail at the local Magistrate’s Court.

Gary Pius McPhillips, of Hawkin Street, is charged with possession of explosives, firearms and ammunition on December 20, last year.

He is further charged with possessing mephedrone and ecstasy with intent to supply. The drugs are alleged to have a street value of £20,000.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard the 29-year-old is accused of possessing two Yugoslavian hand grenades which were the ‘same batch’ as those used by Dale Cregan to murder two female police officers in Manchester.

Opposing bail, an investigating officer told the court police fear McPhillips would commit further offences. He revealed the 29-year-old has previous convictions for drugs offences and has served a prison sentence in Belgium for importing drugs.

The officer said police also fear McPhillips may not turn up for trial as they believe he is a ‘key member of an organised crime gang operating in Derry’ who also have members in the Republic of Ireland and mainland Europe.

Defence counsel Stephen Mooney said his client was applying for bail on the basis of delay. He said McPhillips has spent almost a year on remand and there will be further delay in the case because there are now two co-accused.

District Judge Barney McElholm refused bail for fear of further offences and not turning up for trial.

He said he was “somewhat surprised that anyone other than paramilitaries would hold such weapons but maybe that is an indication of the way things are going”.

McPhillips was remanded in custody and will appear in court again via videolink on December 12.